Ex-Nissan boss’ accused smugglers seek Supreme Court’s help

National

FILE—This Dec. 30, 2019 image from security camera video shows Michael L. Taylor, center, and George-Antoine Zayek at passport control at Istanbul Airport in Turkey. Taylor is accused of smuggling former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn out of Japan in 2019 while he was awaiting trial on financial misconduct charges. (DHA via AP, File)

BOSTON (AP) — An American father and son accused of sneaking former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn out of Japan in a box asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to halt their extradition so they have time to pursue an appeal.

Michael and Peter Taylor have fought for months to keep the U.S. government from handing the men over to Japan, saying they can’t legally be extradited and will be treated unfairly in the Japan. Their lawyers told the Supreme Court that the men would face harsh treatment in the Japanese criminal justice system.

“The issues raised by petitioners merit full and careful consideration, and the stakes are enormous for them. The very least the U.S. courts owe the petitioners is a full chance to litigate these issues, including exercising their appellate rights, before they are consigned to the fate that awaits them at the hands of the Japanese government,” their attorneys wrote.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston refused Thursday to put the extradition on hold, finding that the Taylors are unlikely to succeed on the merits of their case. The Taylors are asking the Supreme Court to halt the extradition until their case is fully considered by the 1st Circuit and, if necessary, the Supreme Court.

U.S. officials had said they could surrender the men to Japan as early as Friday. But authorities now say they will not hand the men over to Japan while their bid for a stay is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, an attorney for the Taylors said.

Taylor, a former Green Beret and private security specialist from Massachusetts, and his son are wanted by Japan so they can be tried on charges that they helped Ghosn, who formerly led Nissan Motor Co., flee the country last year with Ghosn tucked away in a box on a private jet.

The flight went first to Turkey, and then to Lebanon, where Ghosn has citizenship but which has no extradition treaty with Japan.

Ghosn was out on bail at the time and awaiting trial on allegations that he underreported his income and committed a breach of trust by diverting Nissan money for his personal gain. Ghosn said he fled because he could not expect a fair trial, was subjected to unfair conditions in detention and was barred from meeting his wife under his bail conditions. Ghosn has denied any wrongdoing.

The U.S. State Department agreed in October to hand the pair over to Japan, but a Boston federal court judge put the extradition on hold shortly after after their lawyers filed an emergency petition.

The judge rejected the petition last month, clearing the way for the extradition, before the lawyers appealed to the 1st Circuit.

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